VIMMS ~ Putting Faces to a Name
A contingent of dedicated people who are passionate about snow sports and promoting young athletes are the volunteers who drive the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Society. But who exactly are these people who so freely give of their time in order to see Island athletes excel in year-round alpine sports? VIMSS is well represented with 15 Board members. In this issue of The Marmot we are profiling nine of them. In the spirit of winter, we asked these directors what their background in snow sports is and why they support the Mountain Sports Society.
Don Sharpe is Director of Business Operations at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. He co-founded VIMSS with four others in the fall of 2003 as a result of Vancouver and Whistler being awarded the Winter Olympics in 2010.
Sharpe has three teenage children who are avid skiers and snowboarders, and who have literally grown up on the mountain. “I believe it will turn out to be the biggest influence in their lives for many years to come,” he said.
Sharpe loves the idea that someday, an athlete from Vancouver Island will be at an Olympic Games as a result of something the Society did to help them.
“Nobody is doing what we currently offer,” he said. “Although not huge sums of money, it does assist our Island youth.”
Jim Van Tine is a Director and Secretary for VIMSS, and has served in that position since 2004. He has skied for more than 25 years, and usually spends 65-100 days on snow each season.
“I am involved with VIMSS because I believe in its goals—to support mountain athletes with travel grants and to create and improve training facilities on the mountain,” he said.
“Young athletes learn many important life skills participating in any sport. Some may achieve an elite level, but anyone who participates and has fun is a winner. VIMSS helps to promote these goals.”
Gord Campbell is an Administrator with Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre on Hornby Island and has been a Director with VIMSS for two years. He loves cross-country skiing on the groomed trails at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, skis in the backcountry and telemarks on the alpine runs when there is fresh powder.
“Emerging athletes need a champion organization to support them—help with extra costs of training, specialized equipment or travel—as well as helping build a facility that keeps a group or team together on the mountain, with the right core facilities,” he said. “When there is a focus on emerging athletes with our organization and a focal point for athletes and groups in a building in such a fantastic location, lots of good things can happen.”
Jay Dahlgren has been on the Board of Directors since 2006. A sports enthusiast, she skis (nordic and alpine) and takes wilderness canoe, kayak and bike trips.
Dahlgren is also an Olympian, having competed in the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, in women’s javelin. She has also represented Canada in the Commonwealth and Pan-American games and numerous international/ world games.
Her interest with VIMSS has been developing the athletes committee and fundraising for athletes’ travel grants. She has also been active in the board of directors’ push to develop the Mountain Sport Centre, having created the initial concept drawings.
“It is important to have such a society on Vancouver Island and in B.C. because we are visionaries,” she said. “This type of society is able to act upon such an idea as the Mountain Sports Centre. We are not held back nor restricted nor inhibited.”
Kelsa Donald has been a director for two years with VIMSS, helping fundraise for athletes. She participates in both summer and winter alpine sports: skiing, cross-country, snowboarding and mountain biking. “I am on the mountain every weekend of the season and have raised three mountain-loving children,” she said.
Donald represents the snowboard discipline with VIMSS, and is also President of the Vancouver Island Riders Freestyle Snowboard Club.
“I think it is important to have such a society to support and enhance involvement of our youth in healthy lifestyles and help them to pursue their goals in sport,” she said.
“I began skiing and mountain biking in my 30s and have never looked back. It is never too late to learn something new and develop new interests.”
Pat Douglas has been a director with VIMSS for two years and is the biathlon liaison. She works for St. John Ambulance as a branch office assistant. “I am known as the biathlon lady as I have been involved with the sport for over 12 years and volunteered at the Olympics and Paralympics co-ordinating the scores on the range,” she said.
Douglas coached biathlon for cadets when her children became involved, and went to Cadet Nationals as a coach five times. She was asked to represent the Vancouver Island biathlon club on the VIMSS board as she is one of the few directors of the club who lives locally.
“I think it’s important to provide assistance to emerging athletes, which was the reason the society was formed in the first place. Having had children involved in competitive sports, I know how expensive it can be.”
Allison Forsyth has been a director with VIMSS for one year. A two-time Olympic ski racer, Forsyth grew up racing at Mount Washington. She retired in 2008 after competing on the World Cup circuit for 10 years and with the National Ski Team for 11 (she was a national champion eight times).
Forsyth now works with lululemon athletica in Vancouver as the athlete programs manager, but gets back to Mount Washington whenever she can.
“This society provides a level of support that is rarely seen,” she said.
“I am passionate about competitive sport and providing the opportunity for local Island athletes to have the same advantages, privileges and opportunities as athletes from all areas.
Joanna Fox is the Communications Committee Chair with VIMSS, having joined the board four years ago. She is the sport marketing leader with ActNow BC and manages a team of 42 BC athletes—including 2010 Winter Olympic medalists—who are helping the organization to promote the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Fox has worked with Canadian teams at Olympic and Paralympic Games over her lengthy career.
Fox grew up in Ottawa and started alpine skiing through the YM/YWCA, where kids skied down to the Ottawa River and were pulled along to the T-bar by a skidoo towing a long rope with knots for the kids to hang onto. Nowadays, one can find her on the Nordic trails at Mount Washington or telemarking “when the powder is primo”.
Fox is involved with VIMSS because of the athletes. “There are so many talented young athletes on Vancouver Island and neighbouring Gulf Islands, and if I can help them make it to the next level by supporting them through my involvement with VIMSS, then I’ve accomplished one of my goals,” she said.
“In addition to keeping them healthy, I want to help them benefit from all that sport offers, including skills in leadership and teamwork, and an opportunity to meet kids who share their passion.”
John Trimmer is a full-time alpine ski coach with the Mount Washington Ski Club. He comes from an alpine skiing background, but enjoys many snow sports. He recently took a group of skiers to Austria for some training, and on the way back stopped in London and went snowboarding on an indoor slope.
Trimmer has been involved with VIMSS since its inception “but due to my travels have always maintained a minor role,” he said. He stays involved because he wants kids involved in mountain sports to excel.
“Sport is getting too expensive,” he explained. “VIMSS funding helps athletes do what they love to do and gives them opportunities to further their development at training camps and races off the Island.”